For the modern hunting bow, although arrows are not price prohibitive, they also are not inexpensive. Arrows break and have to be replaced, but it seems like a horrible waste when something as seemingly small as losing a fletching makes the arrow useless. Theoretically you can glue the fletching, or a new one if you have an extra, back on by hand, but it really takes a practiced professional to conduct such a repair properly. Any tiny imperfection invisible to the eye will change the arrow’s flight just enough to make it unreliable for good groupings during practice or the all important kill shot in the field.
Using a jig makes the job much easier because you don’t have to hold it perfectly in place while the glue sets, and it lines up the fletching perfectly every time for both angle of the heel and distance from the nock. There are a variety of jigs available depending on your personal needs. If you shoot left handed, you need either straight fletchings or a left heel, or the slight angle you see the fletching take which which gives it a controlled spin for greater accuracy much like what a gun’s rifling does for a bullet. Some jigs are easier to use if you make your own arrows by the batch, whereas others are easier to carry in the field in case you need to replace a single fletching while actually shooting.
Top Fletching Jigs Compared
|Bow:||Our Score:||$ Range:||Notable:|
|Bohning Helix Tower Jig||4.6||$$$||Most options, arrows & bolts.|
|Arizona Rim E-Fletch Mini||4.5||$$$||Helical, sizes 5/16″ or less|
|Bohning Blazer Helix Jig||4.4||$$||Best with 2″ vanes, 3° helical.|
|Easton EZ-Fletch Jig||4.4||$$||Offset or helical turns.|
|Bitzenburger Dial-O-Fletch||4.2||$$$$||Handles all shaft sizes.|
|Arizona Fletch III Jig||4.2||$||1° offset, sizes .240″ to .370″|
Advantages of Fletching Your Own Arrows
Other than the sense of accomplishment at making a well made piece of craftsmanship, fletching your own arrows offers a few distinct advantages over store bought arrows. Most importantly, you can fletch to your liking and incorporate the appearance you find aesthetically pleasing. You also control the quality of each arrow at a lower cost and can repair them as needed. Fletching your own arrows will also increase your overall skill with the bow when you actually draw and fire.
- Fletch to Your Liking: The obvious first advantage of fletching your own arrows is that you can choose the style of fletching you prefer. Different lengths and heights of fletchings are available, but may not come on the shaft you like if it was pre-fletched in a factory. You can also determine whether to use a plastic vane or feather. According to what you determine to shoot better, you can use an offset or helical fletching or install a straight fletching with a heel to help provide the arrow with an in-flight spin.
- You Control the Quality: It may seem that a factory will have developed a system which prevents failure and always produces the best quality arrows, but the fact of the matter is that even with the best quality control there are going to be mistakes which make it to market when arrows are mass produced. When you fletch your own arrows, you are personally responsible for the quality of the workmanship and can trust your arrows to function properly every time you shoot.
- Lower Costs over Time: Arrows are reasonably priced for what they are, but you will save money over time by investing in an arrow fletching jig. Arrows break and have to be replaced, or they can get lost. If you’ve bought a new bow, or even upgraded your existing bow with new accessories, you may want to test fire different arrows while adjusting the sight system, but some pre-fletched arrows are a bit expensive just to test whether or not you like them.
- Repair Arrows: Arrow repair is another practical application for arrow fletching jigs. It can be frustrating when fletchings come off and you realize you have to either throw it away or take it to an archery shop for professional repair. With a jig, you can just add a replacement fletching that evening in the comfort of your own home.
- Increase Your Skills: Although fletching your own arrows isn’t the same experience as target shooting, you can use your fletching jig to increase your skills. You can set up arrows with different fletching styles and adjust the degree of heel for them, then take notes of your target groupings with each setup. Once you’ve found the perfect design for your particular bow and shooting style, you be able to repeat the same pattern on all hunting arrows you build in the future.
- Customize the Look: In addition to customizing your arrow for the sake of performance, you can also design it to look nice, whether for sheer cosmetic purposes or as a practical means of watching the arrow in flight, seeing where it strikes the target, or finding it after a shot. Adding a wrap can further distinguish the look of your arrows while adding a bit of weight which will slow the arrow down but provide it with a more stable flight path.
The Bitzenburger Dial-O-Fletch is often considered the baseline of all fletching jigs. It’s adjustable for distance from the nock and the heel angle, and uses a preset knob to click into place for each vane. The jig is adjustable for any size arrow you may want to use. The Bitzenburger is used by professionals and avid hobbiests alike because of its durable craftsmanship and ability to place the fletching perfectly every time once it has been properly set up to your liking.
Easton EZ-Fletch Jig Set
The Easton EZ-Fletch is a simpler design which effectively places all three vanes at once. The arms are designed for standard two to five inch vanes and adds a slight helical effect to their setting. The Easton is perfect for adding fletchings to a bundle of arrows at once, although it doesn’t provide the adjustments for customization. A quality tool for a reasonable price, it allows a beginner to become familiar with the fletching process.
Arizona Rim E-Z Fletch Mini
The Arizona Mini is similar to the Easton with a smaller size and weight. It only works with smaller vanes, but provides maximum helical positioning to compensate for their size. The Mini works well in the field for emergency repairs while also being appropriate for fletching arrows at home if you prefer the smaller vanes. Nothing is quite as frustrating as being one arrow shy of evaluating three or six arrow standard target groupings, or having an empty quiver spot while hunting, because of losing a fletching while away from home.
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Arizona Fletch III Jig
The Arizona Fletch III Jig is a similar design to the Bitzenburger, but without the range of adjustments. It is simple to use and available at very reasonable price range. The Fletch III is a good system to use for a standard setup. The jig allows you to make your own arrows without the intricacies of determining how tiny variances may or may not affect your accuracy when shooting.
Bohning Blazer Helix Jig
The Bohning Blazer Helix Jig also functions in a similar way to the Bitzenburger, yet offers both the advantages and disadvantages of being constructed of plastic rather than metal. The Blazer Helix is an economical means of setting the fletching perfectly every time. It’s a great way to get started with fletching projects and will always serve as a backup system should you decide to upgrade later on.
Bohning Helix Tower Jig
The Bohning Helix Tower Jig functions more like the Easton jig in that it attaches all three vanes at once, but features a more rigid framework allowing for a steadier setup and ease of use. Like any other fletching jig, it allows for perfectly consistent fletching each time it is used and prevents making a mistake of setting one vane slightly off from where it should be. The Helix Tower is ideal for someone who wants to casually put together a few arrows in the evening. You can use it at your coffee table for a side project while spending time with your family or watching a favorite TV show.
How Much Work is Fletching Arrows?
Fletching arrows isn’t particularly hard work, especially not for someone athletic enough to participate in archery as either a sport or bowhunting. It’s a delicate process which requires dedication and attention to detail. Once you’ve decided on a jig you want to use, and set it up as needed for your preferred fletchings, it still requires a steady hand to apply “just enough” but not too much glue to each vane and then use patience to set them in place and let the glue dry.
A tiny drop of glue properly placed on either end of the vane after the arrow comes out of the jig secures the edges from getting caught on something and beginning to peel off. Although the glue sets in just a few seconds and the arrow can be used immediately, if time allows it’s better to wait awhile so the glue can properly cure. Like most hobbies involving craftsmanship, there are ways to do it fast when needed but to the extent possible a few extra minutes will make the difference between an adequate job and a great one.
Arrow Wraps vs Fletching
There is another means of fletching an arrow which is arguably simpler and, according to some people, works just as well. The QuickFletch system is essential a piece of heat shrink tubing with the vanes pre-attached. Boiling water shrinks the piece to form a friction lock against the arrow shaft. The system works and is a valid means of arrow fletching, but isn’t as substantial as traditional glued-on fletching systems. The convenience of using a system which is hard to make mistakes with is worth having a few around for an emergency, but generally speaking the end results of a fletching jig are going to be better, and more accurate, than arrows with QuickFletch.